Adelie and Staley's World

Adelie and Staley's World

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hashtag Fun

It's New Year's Eve.  I'm in my sweats, doing laundry, and watching TV with my husband.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Home Sweet Home

After 57 hours without power, 2 nights spent away from home, several restaurant meals, and multiple activities (like showers and putting on make-up) completed by flashlight, it's so good to be back in our warm, well-lit, fully functioning home.

But I am also thankful.  Thankful that Zach's parents were willing to host a "family sleepover" for two nights.  Thankful that we had access to several generators to keep our fridge and freezer running.  Thankful that we didn't have damage to our house or water in our basement.  Thankful that we stayed safe and warm.  Our days without electricity were inconvenient, but they also made me grateful for what we usually take for granted.  I am thankful.  I am blessed.  And I am happy to be home.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sometimes a Picture Just Needs Its Own Post

Christmas Letter

I know many of you have received our Christmas letter, but this blog is as much for us as it is for others.  I always like to post our letter here as this is the archive of our family story.  For those of you who think it's lame to post something you've already read, I've included a new, Christmas-y picture at the bottom to appease you.  Here you go:

How can it be time to write the Christmas letter again already?  Didn’t I just do this??  I think I blinked and this year just flew by.  Instead of writing the same old narrative about all that we’ve been up to this year, maybe I’ll give you a flashback to your school days and make this more of a Christmas pop quiz.  For those of you that are stressed out by the mere thought of not being prepared for a school assignment (here’s looking at you, Erik), feel free to brush up on your Sancken family facts with our blog at   So take out your #2 pencil, keep your eyes on your own paper, and let’s get started…

1.        What was Zach’s biggest accomplishment this year?
a.       Welcoming his son into the world
b.      Helping organize the inaugural Eureka to Peoria St. Jude Run that raised a first year record $64,700
c.       Continuing to enjoy his job and gain more responsibilities at State Farm
d.      Convincing his daughters that ‘Bear Down, Chicago Bears’ is an acceptable lullaby (and teaching them to sing along with every word)

Answer:  These were all big moments in his year, but the birth of Briggs has to be the biggest moment for all of us…closely followed by hearing Staley and Adelie sing every word to the Bears fight song each night before bed.

2.       I still work 2 days a week at the Children’s Hospital as a pediatric occupational therapist and get to spend the rest of my days home with our kids.  What do I most like to do in my free time?
a.       Read
b.      Run
c.       Travel
d.      Cook, sew, garden, and make Pinterest-worthy DIY projects

Answer:  Trick question.  With 3 kids under 5, a husband, a home, and a job, I have no free time.  And if you picked d as things I’d enjoy doing in my free time, consider yourself off the Christmas card list. 

3.        Staley (almost 5 years old) is our opinionated, imaginative, inquisitive, and sweet little girl who loves Barbies, crafts, horses, princesses, and pretending.  She is enjoying a variety of activities this year including pre-school, soccer, choir, and drama class.  Staley is full of grand plans and ideas.  What is she not currently planning for?
a.       Her up-coming birthday party…and what she will do, wear, eat, and perform for said party
b.      Her next Halloween costume…and the one after that and the one after that
c.       When and how she will acquire a real horse
d.      A process in which she will become fast and efficient at accomplishing everyday tasks.

Answer:  With all the time spent thinking and talking and imagining and planning, Staley can’t be bothered with insignificant tasks like getting dressed, brushing her teeth, or picking up toys in a timely manner. 

4.        Adelie is 2 ½ years old.  She is lively, enthusiastic, independent, and hilarious.  She loves mermaids and princesses, as well as monster trucks and trains.  She and Staley are two peas in a pod.  Adelie is lots of fun, but definitely keeps us on our toes.  What phrase does Adelie generally not hear on a daily basis?
a.       “That’s a ridiculous thing to cry about.”
b.      “I think that’s a bad idea.”
c.       “You are being too calm and quiet.”
d.      “You know you’re not supposed to climb on that.”

Answer:  If you answered anything other than c, then you haven’t had a chance to meet Adelie. 
5.        Briggs is our newest addition, joining the family in March.  He’s our happy, cuddly, easy-going, social little guy.  Now 9 months old, he’s all smiles and drool.  What skill would I prefer Briggs not accomplish in the near future?
a.       Talking
b.      Feeding himself
c.       Potty training
d.      Mobility

Answer:  I’d like Briggs to be able to communicate his wants and needs in a way other than screaming.  I’d absolutely love to only feed myself at meals and have a diaper free home.  But mobility?  He’s on the verge, but I’m fine with him just staying in one place for a few more years months.
6.       Our year was full of the busy-ness of having a baby and raising 3 kids.  What else were we able to accomplish this year?
a.       Taking a major vacation (other than our annual week in Michigan and week-end trips to Chicago and St. Louis)
b.      Completing a big house project
c.       Watching every Chicago Bears game
d.     Sleeping through the night consistently

Answer:  We may not have been able to accomplish big vacations or house projects, but watching the Bears?  Now that’s something we can do, sleep-deprived and all.

7.       What have Jake and Elwood done this year?
a.       Napped
b.      Napped
c.       Napped
d.      All of the above

Answer:  Yep.  That’s about it.
8.        To all of the individuals on our Christmas card list, what are we wishing for you?
a.       A very merry Christmas
b.      A happy New Year
c.       A healthy and blessed 2016
d.      All of the above

Here’s wishing it all to you and more.
With love (and no failing grades),
Ellen, Zach, Staley, Adelie, and Briggs

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christmas Surprise...or Not

A few weeks ago, Zach took the girls to pick out Christmas gifts for me.  That evening, Staley told me that they had gotten me slippers.  I reminded her that she shouldn't tell me what they got as it's supposed to be a surprise.  We then had this conversation:

Staley:  "Well, we got you something else too and the other thing will be your surprise.  Do you want me to tell you what it is?"
Me:  "No. I want it to be a surprise when I open it on Christmas."
Staley:  "I'll just give you a hint."
Me:  "No!  I want to be totally surprised.  I don't want a hint."
Staley:  "Okay.  This is not a hint, but it might be jewelry."

I may not have been totally surprised on Christmas morning when I opened the slippers and necklace that the kids had gotten for me, but their enthusiasm and excitement about what they had picked out was the best part.  Staley is an enthusiastic and thoughtful giver.  But a good secret-keeper?  Not so much.

Our Christmas: A Celebration in Pictures

Oh, joy!  It's Christmas morning!!

Hmmm...  This toothbrush is pretty cool...

...but boxes and wrapping paper are the best!!

I wish I had a video of the squealing and shrieking in excitement when Staley opened her gift.  I do have a video of one of the MANY rock shows Staley has already put on.  To add to the excitement, Staley also got a recorder (she calls it her flute) AND a karaoke machine with actual, working microphones at my family Christmas later in the day.  She is officially rock star ready!!

The only consistent thing on Adelie's Christmas list was this Ariel doll.  Winner, winner!

I was most excited to reveal to our kids that we are going to Disney next month....a trip I've been planning for close to a year.  The reveal itself (opening a big box with this sign, a countdown calendar, and Disney shirts) was a bit anti-climatic.  I guess opening up an idea isn't nearly as fun as opening up a toy.  But their excitement has been building ever since.  Maybe soon it will match mine.  :)

One of my favorite things about Christmas is watching the joy my kids have in giving gifts to others.  I think they get as excited about giving their gifts as they do in opening their gifts...and that just makes my heart happy.  This year I took each girl to Dollar General so they could pick out a gift for the other.  Adelie got Staley this little diary set, and Staley LOVED it.  She spent a long time on Christmas morning writing out her plans for the rock show she was going to put on.  

After naps, we enjoyed family Christmas with my side of the family.  This was a fairly successful cousin picture with the "bigs".

Adding in the "littles" makes it a bit more difficult.

The girls ended Christmas wearing one of their favorite gifts of the fancy princess jammies from Uncle Ethan.

Although I didn't get a wonderful picture of my 3 kids together...and although we had our fair share of toddler tears...and although my son cried through much of present opening at the big family Christmas...and although I ate WAY too many Christmas goodies, it was still a wonderful Christmas full of family and love and laughter and joy and the knowledge that our Savior was born.

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Countdown

It's 4 days until Christmas and we are ready.  Delivering Christmas goodies?  Check.  Finishing Christmas shopping?  Check.  Mailing out Christmas cards?  Check.  Enjoying the Festival of Lights?  Check.  Extended family celebration?  Check.

Making Christmas gifts?  Check.

Attending pre-school Christmas party?  Check.
Eating Reading Christmas cards?  Check.
And now all we have to do is open the last few advent calendar boxes, wrap the gifts, enjoy the kids' mounting excitement, and bask in the joy of the season.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Ready or Not... he comes.

Briggs (and his THREE teeth) are officially and irrevocably mobile.  That means I am officially on the lookout for rogue Barbie shoes, open gates, uncovered outlets, and accessible trash cans.  If ready or not was a choice, I'd have to go with not.

Christmas Cheer?

You better not pout...

You better not cry...

Apparently we didn't get that memo at our house.  *sigh*

Monday, December 14, 2015


All 3 of our kids have had some big things happening over the past few weeks.

Briggs has gained some new skills.  He can now transition from lying down to sitting up.  We discovered this new skill when Zach went to get him up the other morning and he was just sitting up in his crib, smiling at Zach.  Since then, he's done it quite a few times.  He's also getting up on his hands and knees more and more, seemingly on the verge of trying to crawl.  And today while eating Puffs, Briggs started imitating the sign for "more".  He has also still been sleeping through the night every night since our one night of "training" and just cut his second tooth.

What a big boy!

Adelie is now wearing her big girl underpants for naps and bedtime.  She had been dry almost every morning and after naps consistently over the past month.  We were down to our last pull-up, so we decided to give it a try.  So far, so good.  And she couldn't be more excited!  Adelie also got to sing a few Christmas songs at church with all the pre-school Sunday School classes last Sunday.  She always goes to kid's choir practice with Staley and joins right in, but never gets to perform, so she was very excited to finally have a chance to sing in "big church".

What a big girl!
And Staley has been busy performing.  She sang with Adelie last Sunday with the Sunday School classes.  She performed in her pre-school program last Thursday.  (Thankfully she wasn't the girl who threw up on stage in the middle of the program.  I was also thankful that she wasn't standing next to that girl.  :))  She then sang with kid's choir in church this Sunday.  Luckily Staley doesn't get tired of practicing, singing, and performing.

What a big girl!
It seems like all my kids are growing up so fast right now.  There's always something new.  It's fun to see, but also a little bittersweet because time is just flying by and, no matter what I do, I can't seem to slow it down.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Question of the Day

Which is more concerning?  That Adelie's favorite Christmas song is "Mr. Grinch" or that she has been incorporating lines like "you've got termites in your smile" and "you're a nasty, wasty skunk" into her vocabulary?

I guess we all express our Christmas cheer a little differently.
Adelie's is just expressed in a series of offensive metaphors.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Nine Months

Briggs is now nine months old.  He's growing and learning and changing on a daily basis.  He now weighs about 16 lbs.  He is wearing his 6-9 and 6-12 month clothes and his size 2 diapers.  (He's probably ready for size 3, but I'm still trying to use up his 2's.)  He eats 3 meals and nurses 3-4 times each day.  He has showed a decreased interest in the bottle on the days I work, but still nurses well.  He takes 2 naps, and has been sleeping through the night (11-12 hours) for the past 2 nights.  Briggs smiles big with his one bottom tooth.

Our happy, smiley guy

Likes:  Briggs is still a happy, social little guy.  He loves being around people, although his Mama remains his current favorite.  He still loves bath time and is a big fan of meals.  He doesn't play with any one toy for too long, but favorites include Little People (especially the bus, house, and ark), his activity table, and his spinning hamster wheel.  He also likes dumping out his boxes of rattles and playing with the contents.  More so, however, Briggs enjoys things that are new and different, whether it's a DVD case, swimming goggles, or Barbies.  He continues to enjoy books, primarily those with big flaps and textures.  Briggs loves to eat.  Favorite foods include crackers, Puffs, Cheerios, toast, grilled cheese, fruits, and sweet potatoes.  He likes going on outings and is always happy to be in the baby K'tan.  And he loves watching his sisters play.

Playing with stacking rings and Christmas cards

Dislikes:  Briggs gets fussy when he's hungry or tired.  He will sometimes cry if someone else is holding him when I'm in the room.  He can also get mad when he's lonely or bored.  Getting his face wiped after meals and his nose wiped always makes him mad. 

Skills:  Briggs is becoming more and more mobile.  He can now commando crawl to get to things he wants, although will also resort to rolling.  He can get up on his hands and knees, and will pull up to his knees on us or his toy boxes.  He can transition from sitting onto his hands and knees, but is not yet transitioning from lying down to sitting up.  He loves to stand holding onto things.  Briggs can activate toys, push buttons with his index finger, bang toys together, open and close doors on toys, and pick up small things with a pincer grasp.  He can finger feed, grab his spoon and pull it to his mouth, and hold his cup by himself.  He is always removing his socks and hats.  Briggs enjoys rolling a ball back and forth, playing so big, waving, splashing, and sticking out his tongue.  He makes lots of noises and squeals.  He has said things that sound like 'hi', 'dada', and 'mama'.  We are calling 'mama' his first (and only) word, although he still doesn't use it consistently.  What he does do consistently is make us smile and fill our days with joy.

Our little 9 month old


This week-end, the girls spent the night with their grandparents on Friday night, not coming home until after lunch on Saturday.  Saturday morning was a nice, relaxing time spent playing with Briggs and getting things done around the house.  When the girls came home on Saturday, Briggs and Adelie took nice naps while Staley rested and I got a few more things done.  By late Saturday afternoon, I was feeling rested and relaxed.  I even mentioned how good I was feeling to Zach.  Saying it out loud was just tempting the universe.

It wasn't even an hour later that Zach was napping upstairs, Briggs was throwing a fit in the kitchen, Adelie had an accident on the play room floor, and dinner was burning on the stove.  I should probably just remove "rested and relaxed" from my vocabulary, because "crazy and chaotic" is more my reality.  But I do appreciate those rested and relaxed moments, short as they might be, to help me be ready to handle all the rest.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Fast Learner

I was just exhausted.  I told Zach I couldn't keep getting up multiple times every night anymore to feed Briggs.  I decided it was time to try to let him cry it out and see if we could train him to start sleeping better at night.  We started 2 nights ago.  Briggs woke up right on cue around midnight, cried for 25 minutes, and fell back asleep.  He cried for 10-15 minutes at 3:00, 5 minutes at 5:00, and 1 minute around 5:45.  And last night, he went to bed at 7:40 and I didn't hear a peep until this morning at 7:15.

One night!  After one night, he figured it out.  Why, oh why, did we wait so long to try this???

He's proven that he's a fast learner.  Now I'm just hoping he can keep it up.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Forward Mobility

I wasn't encouraging mobility, but Briggs figured it out anyway.  Now instead of rolling where he wants to go, he's figured out how to commando crawl.  It's not yet fast or efficient, but I know it's only a matter of time.

And just like that, my life is about to become a lot more complicated.